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«The Role of the Performing Arts in Postwar Phoenix, Arizona: Patrons, Performers, and the Public by Michelle Lynne Bickert A Thesis Presented in ...»

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Economy: Arts, Culture, and Prosperity in Arizona’s Valley of the Sun, (Phoenix:

Maricopa Regional Arts and Culture Task Force, 2004), 12.

greater incentive for individuals and corporations to invest in the Valley’s cultural resources.212 Arizona’s institutions have received comparatively little public funding. When the NEA first awarded basic state agency grants to the Arizona Commission on the Arts for 1966-1967, they allotted $12,053 for thirty-two qualifying events. By 1974-1975, funding increased to $200,000 for 1,457 events, the standard award for each state commission.213 In 2007 direct government funds accounted for 13 percent of an average American nonprofit arts institution’s total budget; in Arizona, it only comprised 2-8 percent. By 2011 Arizona ranked forty-ninth in the nation in annual arts support, spending only ten cents per capita. The National Endowment for the Arts awarded Arizona $1.3 million, including $938,600 in Partnership Agreement competitive grants in 2010. The state’s NEA-mandated body, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, appropriated those funds based on factors like size, services, contribution to the community, and success in the competitive grant process, making them an important body for deciding which groups survive. 214 Although the state had more money for the arts, it also had significantly more Rob Melnick, Nancy Welch, and Bill Hart, How Arizona Compares, Real Numbers and Hot Topics (Phoenix: Morrison Institute for Public Policy, 2005), 54.

The NEA also awarded the Arizona Commission on the Arts $25,000 for planning and a state survey. The state agency grant does not include grants made to individual organizations. Arizona Commission on the Arts and Humanities Annual Report to the Governor, 1975, Ephemera Collection; National Endowment for the Arts/National Council on the Arts Annual Report (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1975), 43.

Phoenix’s relationship with its arts scene fits a national trend of public arts funding and how government defines art. Alice Goldfarb Marquis reviewed public arts funding since World War II and concluded that systems of funding are flawed. They have had mixed success in the past, but the current model is not sustainable. She argued that groups and events, not only in the initial categories from the 1960s and 1970s (theater, music, dance, visual arts, education), but also participants in broader categories (literature, architecture, museums, film).215 Since the late 1990s, Arizona’s arts funding came from legislative appropriation, the Arts Trust Fund, and interest from the Arizona ArtShare Endowment. The Arts Trust Fund was established in 1989 under Governor Rose Mofford and allocated $15 from every Arizona Corporate Commission filing fee to the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

The ArtShare Endowment was a public/private-funding model created in 1996 under Governor Fife Symington. The state committed $20 million through 2008, with interest going to the state arts commission, while arts organizations could use the state’s commitment and clearly defined standards to leverage private donations. The program greatly improved arts funding throughout Arizona, but after the state fulfilled its obligation it extricated all public funds from the endowment to balance the budget during the state’s financial crisis in 2009. The economic recession made public arts funding in Arizona extremely difficult. The Phoenix Office of Cultural Affairs estimated 72 percent less funding from the city since 2009. Decades after the original patrons left, Arizona arts organizations still looked to the government for funding and stabilization, hoping to the National Council on the Arts once comprised “cultural czars” but as a group it is now simply marginal. Programs like the National Endowment for the Arts prioritize certain types of art over others, deeming particular modes or groups more artistically valuable than others. Alice Goldfarb Marquis, Art Lessons: Learning from the Rise and Fall of Public Arts Funding (New York: Basic Books, 1995).

Jaime Dempsey, “ American Arts Funding and the Delivery of Arts Funding in

Arizona: A Primer,” in Arizona Academy, Capitalizing on Arizona’s Arts and Culture:

Ninety-eighth Arizona Town Hall (Phoenix: Arizona Town Hall, 2011), 37, 40-41.

leverage the support for more private donations and ideally a new group of dedicated patrons.216 Arts Education Supplements STEM Programs The authors of the reports identified education as critical for creating knowledge economy talent as well as arts and culture patrons and audience. Arizona’s (and the nation’s) push for STEM in schools is necessary for developing the talented workforce that will fill the ranks of the knowledge economy. When Arizona was first vying for the defense industry in 1940, the state was ranked fourth for college-educated workers; in 2011, it was twenty-seventh, and much of the decline has occurred since the 1990s. Part of the problem is qualified graduates will leave the state if there are not enough opportunities, but college-attainment rates are declining among the non-Hispanic population and have been below average in the increasing Hispanic community since the 1980s. Quality education, technology in classrooms, and students ready to start and stay in school create an educated citizenry and attract high-tech businesses that want to be near a knowledgeable workforce. But putting more technology in classrooms and improving the region’s infrastructure will not fully bring the Valley into competition with Austin, Denver, Portland, Salt Lake City and other cities vying for knowledge economy industries. College Board data showed students who took four years of art and/or music classes in high school scored ninety-one more points on their SATs than students who did a semester or less. Supplementing STEM courses with arts courses cultivated students’ Ibid., 42-43; Welch et. al., A Place for Arts and Culture, 14.

creativity and innovation, both preparing them for the new economy and instilling appreciation for the arts.217 In 1996 Arizona adopted voluntary K-12 academic standards for drama, music, visual art and dance and updated the requirements in 2006. The Arizona Board of Regents adopted a rule requiring one unit of fine arts for admission to any of the state’s public universities. However, Arizona’s decentralized school system made it difficult to implement the standards statewide. For every outstanding program like Sylvester H.

Herrera Elementary School (Phoenix) and Tucson Unified School District’s Opening Minds Through the Arts, there were many rural and urban schools that struggled to meet the minimum requirements. As of 2009, only 56 percent of Arizona schools had updated their curriculum to align with the Arizona Academic Arts Standards, and 20 percent of schools still offered zero arts courses. Many schools have much more pressing issues to address before they can integrate an arts curriculum, harming their students’ chances of entering the state’s public universities. The tough economy forced school districts to prioritize funding certain subjects over others, harming Arizona’s knowledge economy George W. Hammond, Troubling Trends in Arizona’s College Attainment Rate (Tucson: Economic and Business Research Center, 2013), http://ebr.eller.arizona.edu/research/Trending_College_Attainment_in_Arizona_9_2_13.p df, 1-2; Mary Jo Waits, “Making Public Policy Choices for People and Places,” in The

New Economy: A Guide for Arizona, N. Joseph Cayer and Nancy Welch, eds. (Phoenix:

Morrison Institute for Public Policy, 1999), 35; Mandy Buscas and Lynn Tuttle, “Arizona Arts Education,” in Arizona Academy, Capitalizing on Arizona’s Arts and Culture, 69.

base in the future and stalling decades-long programs that have brought local arts groups into classrooms.218 Culture Forms Communities and Creates Sense of Place Critics joke that Phoenix is a cultural desert, and even though the city has had numerous developments in its arts and culture, the witticism reflects people’s attitudes about the arts. Between 1997 and 2004, the Morrison Institute for Public Policy surveyed Valley residents’ opinions on factors contributing to their quality of life. They consistently named education, public safety, and crime as top concerns, while arts, culture, and recreation was the lowest priority. Although residents saw the quality of life improving overall, they thought their cultural institutions were developmentally stagnant.

Part of the problem was Valley residents were disconnected from their cultural institutions. Decades after the significant postwar migration, two thirds of Valley residents were born elsewhere, making it difficult to cultivate a strong sense of community. Arts programs are one solution to fostering social capital, improving quality of life, and building the community. People who are involved in arts and cultural activities also have high participation levels in other aspects of community life. The arts can also connect communities across the region and state, the way sports do. Just as the Arizona Diamondbacks bring statewide fans together through a common interest, the Arizona Opera and Arizona Theatre Company connect the Phoenix and Tucson arts Gammage et. al., Megapolitan 35, Ellis et. al., The Arts in Arizona, 3; Colleen Sparks, “Best Schools 2010,” Phoenix Magazine, August 2010, 106; Buscas and Tuttle, “Arizona Arts Education,” 68-71.

communities, broadening audiences. Modern groups foster community the same way early Phoenicians bonded over their love of music and theater.219 One way the city supported the arts community is by physically building an arts community. The Roosevelt area was full of boarded up shops and empty lots in the 1980s when Mayor Goddard and the city designated it a Special Planning District to revitalize the neglected area. It attracted artists looking for cheap working and living spaces, and the city capitalized on the budding arts district formation. In 2006, under Mayor Phil Gordon, the city hired Dyett & Bhattia Urban Regional Planners to redevelop the 1,500 acres between Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street to the east and west, and McDowell Road and Buckeye Road to the north and south. The area included the older arts districts – the Civic Center and Convention Center – plus other cultural districts like Heritage Square, the Warehouse District, and Roosevelt Row. Phoenix was previously zoned parcel by parcel in a way that only allowed commercial or residential areas, but since 2006 the city has rezoned the area to create mixed-use districts that encouraged an arts district with galleries, workspaces, lofts, and businesses like grocery stores and coffee shops. The traffic plan included narrowing streets to encourage walkability, and the light rail played a large role in bringing people directly into these neighborhoods. The monthly First Fridays festival brought Valley residents into the Roosevelt community and displayed galleries, businesses, and cultural institutions. The plan not only created an arts What Matters, 8, 43; Welch et. al., Vibrant Culture, 8; Chris Walker, Stephanie Scott-Melnyk, Kay Sherwood, Reggae to Rachmaninoff: How and Why People Participate in Arts and Culture (Washington, D.C.: The Urban Institute, 2002), 7-8;

Gammage et. al., Megapolitan, 39.

destination within the city, it cultivated a sense of place and identity for downtown culture.220 Defining the area’s culture and cultivating sense of place is important for increasing urban appeal and attracting residents and industry. Instead of being close to material resources, knowledge economy businesses seek locations with a critical mass of creative talent. An appealing city has research institutions, technology infrastructure, intellectual and social capital, and a desirable quality of life. Phoenix has always used its climate and natural environment as a selling point, and ASU has grown as a Research I institution with bioscience and sustainability institutes; however, arts policy leaders stressed the city needs to develop a stronger cultural brand if it is going to compete with other cities for talent and industry. The Valley has nationally recognized organizations and programs, but the cultural identity needs to be clearer.221 Competing with Benchmark Cities Requires Arts Development The Batelle Memorial Institute’s 2003 study for the Maricopa Regional Task Force compared Phoenix to nine benchmark regions: Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Denver, Indianapolis, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Diego, and Seattle. Many of the regions faced the same issues as the Valley, including struggling to find steady financial support for arts and culture. Because the Valley is much more decentralized than other regions, it is hard to identify a central hub for arts and cultural the way other cities have clearly Michael Tulipan, “Reviving Phoenix Through Art,” New York Times, January 31, 2010; General Plan, 38; Megan Irwin, “Phoenix Rising?” Phoenix New Times, November 30, 2006; Gail Brinkman and Nichelle Zazueta-Bonow, Roosevelt Row Design Guidelines (Phoenix: City of Phoenix, 2011), 10, 12-13.

Waits, “Making Public Policy Choices,” 30-35; Welch et. al., Vibrant Culture, 8.

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